I hate headhunters. I have heard tell that in some fields search firms are legitimate. In the medical field for instance, headhunters are an accepted way for hospitals to find doctors and are widely used, although thankfully with the current generation of doctor’s command of the internet, they seem to be used less and less. In the legal field however, they really only exist to prey upon the lazy or internet illiterate who can’t bother searching for the same job postings the search firms so obviously ripped from the internet job boards and scrubbed the contact information from. In general, the less people in your field and the higher the demand, the more legitimate the headhunters become. That of course is not how it works in any sector of the legal field.
To run through a few numbers to give you an idea of what we are talking about… there are approximately 1.3 million attorneys in the United States. Of those attorneys, only a very small subset are allowed to attempt to register to practice before the US Patent Office. There is a 43 page GRB booklet just talking about who can submit to register to take the patent exam, which has a failure rate of well over 50%. There are currently about 42,000 people on the list of registered patent attorneys and agents, with about 31,000 of them also licensed to practice law. (this number was actually a bit higher a bit over a year ago, but it turns out that with no yearly maintenance fee the USPTO had no idea who had died and who was retired… they sent out postcards to everyone they ever licensed and required them to be returned or be taken off the register.) Plus when you consider how many of those people are examiners at the USPTO (currently pegged at approximately 5,000) you can see how the field gets smaller and smaller. So now we are getting down to brass tacks… the end result of all of this is that there are not that many patent attorneys wandering around.
The USPTO publishes names and contact info of everyone who passes the exam. I passed the patent bar a while ago in a vain attempt to become more marketable to employers. Also because I had always wanted to. I was eligible, I had generally always planned on doing it at some point. I have a bunch of time doing nothing while I am unemployed, so why not finally sit down and study and take the exam. A few weeks later, I get in the mail a hand addressed and stamped letter from William K. McLaughlin Associates congratulating me on passing the exam and inviting me to contact them to discuss potential job listings (normally I would post a scan but I shredded the letter shortly after all of this without thinking about the blog) it included the requisite generic listings of ‘positions you too could possibly get with us’ as shown here. I almost threw the letter out. I mean, it is a headhunter and as I have stated over and over, legal sector headhunters are pretty much all scams. But then I started thinking of the numbers… there is a high demand for patent work, and generally headhunters become more legitimate when there is few practitioners and a high demand… and so I got sucked into responding.
The letter included a business card to one of the faceless associate headhunters, so I fired off a response about how I was very interested in speaking with them etc. etc. etc. A short while later, I get back a response. Sorry, we only deal with people who have 2+ years of experience. Huh? So, they send out letters to everyone who have just passed, urging them to call them about jobs. But they effectively refuse to deal with them because… they just passed…
I can only assume they have a fantastic backup business plan because this one is fantastically retarded.
I hate headhunters.